Hand Crushed in Car Accident - $4,000,000 Pain and Suffering Jury Verdict for 59 Year Old Man Reduced on Appeal to $1,350,000


Israel Ramos was minding his own business while out for a nice day’s drive in New York City on April 17, 1998 when, all of a sudden, his van flipped over on the Bronx River Parkway. Unbeknown to him, a car thief was being chased a few miles back by the New York City Police Department.

The chase was sometimes at speeds in excess of 70 miles an hour. When passing Mr. Ramos, the car thief clipped his van and it flipped over.

Stumbling out of his van, Mr. Ramos clutched his left hand and saw blood all over. And that’s about all he remembers except for being in excruciating pain, being rushed by ambulance to the nearest hospital and undergoing the first of five surgeries to try to save his hand.

His hand (except for the amputation of his pinky) was saved but he ended up with a permanent claw-like contracture.

The car thief was carted off to jail and, Ramos ended up suing the city based on his claim that the police officers had acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others in their pursuit of the car thief at high speeds through dense areas and contrary to internal department rules.

The “reckless” disregard” standard is significantly more stringent than mere negligence and that’s because as a society we do not want to hold police officers liable for every mistake they make in seeking to discharge their often very dangerous, life-threatening duties. We have determined by legislative enactment (in this case, Vehicle and Traffic Law 1104) to give police officers a break in lawsuits against them for injuries they cause to others by making the injured plaintiffs prove that the cops were more than negligent – that their actions amounted to a reckless disregard for the safety of others.

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John Hochfelder on:

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